Warchief Review: An Ambitious Film With Glaring Weaknesses

Warchief (2024).

Warchief, directed and written by Stuart Brennan, attempts to masterfully blend elements of action, drama, fantasy, and ancient-world lore into a compelling, intense film. Its ambitious premise – that of guardians shepherding a crucial messenger across treacherous terrains battling everything from vile monsters to plague-stricken pariahs and potent magic, promised high-octane action and riveting suspense. While it occasionally delivers on those fronts, unfortunately, it largely falls short, offering instead, a confusing mix of good and not-so-good performances and shaky direction.

Our protagonist, Orion, is played by director Brennan himself. A hero tasked with defending a messenger against a slew of foes. Unfortunately, the duality of directing and acting might not have been the best choice. Orion’s character lacks the gravitas expected from a lead hero and doesn’t strike as the powerful guardian, offering little emotive response to the dramatic encounters along the journey. A lack of authentic connection with the audience reduces his otherwise action-packed scenes to hollow exercises.

The Good:

Rosanna Miles delivers a decent performance as Griff, a relentless, fearless warrior, showcasing some interesting character development, giving the audience a sliver of the depth that Warchief could have boasted across its cast. However, despite Miles’ dedicated portrayal, her performance is also stifled by weak direction and storytelling.

Mark Paul Wake, as the titular Warchief, is arguably the most striking figure. A worthy antagonist, Wake imbues the Warchief with palpable menace and lends a necessary bite to the proceedings. It’s a shame then that he’s introduced far too late in the plot to fully impact the overall narrative arc.

The ensemble performance by Suzanne Packer as Arcanus deserves applause, especially her charismatic interplay with Griff and Orion. However, as with Wake, she is significantly underused, causing a definite sag in the narrative’s fabric.

The Bad:

The dark magic, a core part of the movie, is curiously downplayed, despite being potentially one of its most intriguing features. The plague-ridden outcasts and monstrous enemies who pose grave danger feel clichéd, more bark than actual bite. Furthermore, the attempts to lend depth to the guardians through backstories fall flat as these tales are shallowly sketched, causing the audience to remain disengaged.

In terms of production quality, the movie doesn’t fare well either. It often falters with sloppy editing and lackluster cinematography, never really capturing the scale and wonder of its mythical setting. A tighter grip on technicalities could have given it the much-needed sheen and appeal, lifting the viewing experience substantially.


What Brennan manages to do well is maintain a continuous momentum of events that does enough to hold audience’s attention. The action sequences, though simple, provide thrills that keep the film from sinking under its narrative flaws.

Warchief is a case of what could have been. In his attempt to make a vibrant fantasy-action film, Stuart Brennan neglects storytelling elements that detract from the film. Its saving graces are occasional bursts of well-choreographed action and decent performances from its ensemble cast. If you have a taste for high fantasy and a bit of patience to get past its failings, it’s worth a watch, if only to see its attempts at building a riveting story amidst trials and tribulations. However, if you seek depth in characters, storytelling, or filmmaking, you may find yourself a tad disappointed.

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Warchief Review: An Ambitious Film With Glaring Weaknesses
  • Acting - 6/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
  • Watchability - 6/10
  • Rewatchability - 3/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.